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How to Make Your Rental Energy Efficient

Tips for Guests

One great thing about going on vacation is that you don’t have to pay the energy bill – everything’s included! Which, unfortunately, makes it all too easy to waste resources.

When you’re away from home, it sometimes feels like certain things “don’t count,” so you might scarf down extra handfuls of potato chips, leave the lights on, or take longer showers than usual. But the truth is that your choices have just as much of an impact on the environment on vacation as they do at home. You do have control over your use of energy and resources, especially if you rent a vacation home.

Here are some tips to make your relaxing vacation easy on the planet as well…

Use windows, curtains, and blinds strategically. During hot weather, if you open windows during the cooler nights and mornings, and close them as soon as the outside temperature warms up, you can avoid the need to run the air conditioner all day long. Likewise, you can use the curtains and blinds to regulate indoor temperature: filtering out the sun during the day will naturally keep the inside air cool.

Use the dishwasher. If you wait until the dishwasher is full to run it, you’ll use much less water (and energy to heat the water) than if you washed a few dishes here and there. Besides, it will leave more time for lounging and playing while on vacation. Open the dishwasher door to air dry the dishes afterward. In a rental without a dishwasher, you can save up a pile of dishes and do them all at once, using a bucket of warm, soapy water to avoid running the water too much.

Make yourself at home. Chances are, you don’t leave all the lights on, blast the air conditioning or heat all day and night, and take extra long, hot showers when you’re in your own home. Just having a comfortable, personal experience in a rental home with character can make you take full responsibility for the environment while on vacation. So choose a place that you know you’ll love and care for, rather than one that’s akin to an anonymous hotel room.

Tips for Owners

Everyone is going green these days, and your vacation rental business should be no exception. Vacationers will be increasingly looking for places to stay that are in lign with their Earth-friendly values. Besides, making your property more energy efficient is just good business sense.

Here are some tips on cutting down on your property’s environmental impact—and the bills—while enhancing your guests’ vacation experience…

Buy into renewable energy. If your electric company gives you the choice of paying a few extra cents for wind or solar energy, consider it seriously. Not only will you feel better about your environmental impact; you will also be able to highlight your responsible energy choices in your listing. As a result, you may actually attract environmentally conscious guests who will keep energy usage to a minimum.

Switch to CFL light bulbs and energy efficient appliances. Compact fluorescent light bulbs require much less energy than incandescent bulbs – and they last a lot longer too, reducing your maintenance duties. For refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, and other appliances, investing in newer models with the Energy Star label will help renters reduce their energy usage.

Install low-flow showerheads and toilets. Good low-flow showerheads won’t take away from the comfort and luxury of your guests’ experience; they will lower your water and energy bills. Two-button, low-flow toilets are not common yet, so you may want to place a small sign in the bathroom showing guests which button is which.

Put in high quality windows, curtains, and blinds. These window dressings serve as great insulators and temperature regulators in any weather, reducing the need to blast the air conditioning and heat. You should also make sure that the bottom of the door is draft-free.

Stock the cabinets with green cleaning products and supplies. There’s no need to expose your renters and the planet to harmful fumes and chemicals just so they can clean up after themselves. Look into natural, safer products (see GoodGuide and Green Depot), and provide guests with reusable supplies like microfiber cleaning cloths and a clothesline and clothespins.

Joanna Eng is a New York-based writer and editor who covers travel, green living, food, careers, entrepreneurship, and more. Her travel experiences have ranged from hostel hopping in Mexico to staying with distant relatives in China to renting a beach apartment in New Jersey.